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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Old School Rhetoric and New School Cognitive Science

Lucy JewelCollege of Law

In this presentation, we will learn how modern day legal communication continues to be influenced by classical rhetoric. When deployed effectively, ancient rhetorical concepts produce clear and persuasive messages in professional legal settings.  As old as these concepts are, they are also uniquely aligned with cognitive scientific understandings for how humans best process information.  Ancient rhetoric, however, is not infallible and sometimes conflicts with how the real world works and how people really think.  Even though these age-old precepts are imperfect, they have been retained in our legal culture because they generally produce arguments that the human mind perceives as rational and intelligent.  We will discuss the ancient rhetoric principles, the modern cognitive science that explains why these principles work so well, and then consider some concrete examples.

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